Learning to be Canadian Again

Since I have recently posted a ‘love letter’ for my husband on this blog, in honour of February 14, this ‘valentine’ (of sorts) deals with the love and appreciation of country.

I am no longer confident in my Canadian spellings. Is it analyse or analyze, amoeba or ameba (please don’t ask why I was trying to use that word)? Is focussed the Canadian version of focused…. or is it simply a less-used alternative…. or did I make it up entirely? Living overseas, I began to stray from Canadian spellings and I had plenty of excuses to cover for me. Now that I am back home, I really should spell (consistently) like a Canadian, shouldn’t I? With a sweet little invention called spell-checker this should be no problem, except that if there is a Canadian spell-checker on my Gmail account, I honestly cannot find it. Being a girl-scout-problem-solver, I decided to go with the next best thing and select “British English” as my Gmail default language (which seemed like a great idea until I spent a full hour looking for my trash…. which had magically been transformed into a bin)!

My sometimes mixed-up spellings are not the only telltale sign of my life abroad. At the airport, I attempted to enter into a crowded elevator that easily could have squeezed three (or four) more people inside. “Excuse me honey, can’t you see that this elevator is full?” said one apologetically sounding woman in the back. Ah, the Canadian complacency with space. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Asia anymore!

I love being reunited with Canadian comfort food. Maple syrup, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, zucchini bread, Timbits with my double-double and Holy Crap cereal…how I’ve missed you. While admittedly not a fan of poutine quite yet, I will keep on trying.

I do not like to spend much time talking politics, or religion or getting into “my dog is bigger than your dog” conversations. Suffice it to say, watching the world news (on most days) makes me feel even more grateful to be Canadian than I already am. What makes me love my country? It’s a long list, but here are a few highlights. Personally, to me, Canada means: Family, loved ones, heritage, memories, home and comfort. On a larger scale, I am immensely proud of Canada’s diversity, friendly (and overly polite) people, wilderness, open spaces, clean air, amazing landscapes, safety, our value on education, our stance on gun control, our abundance of natural resources…and having a hip and modern Prime Minister. And, according to a recent worldwide study by the Legatum Prosperity Index 2015, Canada ranks number one worldwide for personal freedom of its citizens (!/ranking). If that alone does not convince you, we even have small towns that, on a major snow day, close a section of their main highways to allow their children to go sledding. How cool is that?

Yes, there are downsides to life back in Canada. Housing costs, especially in Vancouver and Toronto (seriously!), not enough family doctors to go around, traffic can be unpredictable (my husband actually preferred driving in Beijing because the drivers there were more defensive… and the faint of heart were not behind the wheel), and the value of our dollar has lost substantial value against the US dollar, and some other currencies. But compared to the pros, it’s hard to complain about life back in Canada.

If you are Canadian, what have I missed? If you’re not, what makes you most proud of your country? Always looking for different points of view, and new places to explore, I’m interested in hearing your commentsbut remember, it is Valentine’s Day!

12 thoughts on “Learning to be Canadian Again”

  1. Happy Valentines! Just received an ecad from Jadine, I think that is something Canadian…..our caring of friends and family and not afraid of showing it!💕
    Welcome home!


  2. A lovely writing for the Valentine’s Day! I am also wondering how you would reflect your life in China. Looking forward to it.


    1. Hi Suyi – Thank you for your kind words. I definitely find that my life in China peeks through in most of my writing (and in all that I do). I will definitely make deeper reflections on this in future posts. I greatly appreciate this (and any future) suggestions.


  3. Hi Donna,

    A very eloquent posting indeed. 🙂 I’m very proud to be Canadian too!

    Something I love most about Canada is the natural beauty and numerous provincial and national parks. No matter where you live a picturesque park, complete with campfires, canoe rides and smores is just a “hop, skip and jump” away.

    Something I struggle with is that I feel our educational system could do better at exploiting the diversity of cultures and languages represented in our classrooms. I feel that many multilingual skills atrophy in the public system instead of being cultivated. Although, as country, we pride ourselves on our diversity, this is not reflected in how ELLs are supported in their educational journey.

    Happy Valentine’s Day!

    Kelsey 🙂


    1. Hi Kelsey – Thank you for following, and thank you for your comments. I definitely agree with you on the natural beauty of Canada. Being away from the Canadian school system for many years, I am sad to hear about lack of support for diversity of languages in the Canadian classroom. This is a great point for discussion (and advocacy). Are there any other thoughts on this from other educators out there?


  4. There is something indefinably Canadian that cannot be put into words, but that I feel each and every time I cross over the border, which I have ben crossing regularly for the past 30 years. I consider it the essence of Canada, and what it means and is to be Canadian, indescribable, and yet so profound it makes me proud every time I encounter it. As I prepare once again to head to my second home in the States, I know that I will miss it, and that I will welcome it and recognize it instantly when I return again.


  5. Dawne Williams
    I’m proud that collectively, we Canadians, usually aren’t an international embarrassment. (Well, we won’t count Rob Ford!) We DON’T think we’re any more exceptional or entitled than any other country or nationality, we have a humility combined with national pride, a sense of inclusiveness within our borders as well as on the international stage, in other words I think we try to be “good world citizens”, and by doing so that IS our uniqueness. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and yet take very seriously our obligations to other nations. And for a really smaltzy wrap-up to this little “Ode to Canada”, no matter how many times I’ve seen that “Mounties Musical Ride”, I’m so proud to be Canadian, at some point during the show, I’m almost moved to tears. I’m not sure why, but there it is!


    1. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Dawne. You’re totally right about the Musical Ride…it gets me every single time!


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